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Much like a stress-free vacation, cannabidiol (CBD) provides much-needed therapeutic relief for a growing number of people. Extracted from either hemp or marijuana plants, this non-intoxicating cannabinoid is coveted for its purported ability to reduce stress, inflammation, chronic pain, and assist in the treatment of other medical conditions. 

You might have heard that, following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is now legal across the United States. While that assumption would technically be correct, that doesn't necessarily mean you can bring your trusty bottle of CBD oil anywhere you wish. 

In May 2019, a 69-year-old woman was arrested at Disney World in Florida for possession of CBD. That same month, a 72-year-old woman who was jailed after Texas airport security officials discovered CBD oil in her travel bag.  

It's possible to bring CBD along for a trip with adequate knowledge and precaution. But each aspect of your travel plan will affect your approach to flying with CBD oil, hitting that CBD vape pen on the cruise, or bringing that CBD-infused topical on your road trip. When planning your trip, you should always consider:  

  • Where are you going? 
  • How are you getting there? 
  • Where are you staying? 

Knowing what to consider regarding the transport, storage, and consumption of CBD should be included when making your travel itinerary. 

Marijuana vs. Hemp-derived CBD

Before we get into the nitty-gritty legal details of traveling with CBD, it's important to differentiate between CBD products derived from hemp and marijuana. Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the production of hemp and its derivatives were legalized on the federal level with the stipulation that they contain less than 0.3% THC

Marijuana-derived CBD products, on the other hand, often contains higher levels of THC. These products are only available and permitted in states with medical or adult-use legalization. If you're thinking about traveling with CBD products with levels of THC that exceed federal law, you should refer to our guide on traveling with weed.

Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is legal in all 50 U.S. states, but marijuana-derived CBD containing more than 0.3% THC is only allowed in states that have legalized medical or adult-use marijuana. (Photo by Caleb Simpson/Unsplash)

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to grapple with how to best deal with the CBD market, there remains a lack of regulatory oversight for CBD products. Because of this, it's important to find reputable CBD products that have a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab, ensuring that the ingredients on the product label are accurately listed.    

The thin legal distinction between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD products shows why it's all the more important to source CBD oil from reputable brands that provide third-party testing results.

What's Your Mode of Transportation? 

Another factor to take into consideration is your mode of transportation. Taking a flight across the country? Renting a car for a multi-state road trip? Going on a cruise ship voyage across international waters? Understanding the rules and regulations involved with each will help you make a safe and well-informed decision.

Traveling with CBD in a Car

For those planning a road trip or intend to cruise around in a rental car, there are certain factors to weigh when deciding whether to take your CBD products along for the ride. Although hemp-derived CBD is legal on a federal level, state and local traffic laws could vary depending on where you're driving. Simply put, if you're going on an interstate road trip that includes a state where cannabis remains illegal, you are still subject to that state's specific laws.   

“It could be completely legal depending on which state you're in, but state laws and local laws come into play what when you're talking about CBD products,” said Michael Cindrich, a San Diego-based marijuana attorney and founder of the Law Offices of Michael E. Cindrich APC. “That's an important factor to recognize, you should know the laws of where you are.”

Hemp-derived CBD is legal at the federal level, but driving with CBD subjects motorists to state and local laws, and possession of cannabis can be illegal. (Photo by Ezra Comuea-Jeffrey/Unsplash)

You should always research the local laws of your intended destination or states you may happen to travel through. In the event that you are pulled over, it's critical that you readily have readily evidence that proves your CBD product doesn't have THC levels that exceed the federal limit. 

“Know where you're getting it from, keep a record of where you're getting it from,” Cindrich advised. “It's not a bad idea to maintain the packaging if it clearly states that it contains a certain percentage of THC and be willing to produce that information to officers should the situation arise.”

Nonetheless, it's smart to keep all CBD products in a safe, secure place that doesn't draw any unnecessary attention.   

“Even if it is legal where you're driving, it's not a bad idea to keep it in a locked secure location just to avoid any mistakes by law enforcement,” Cindrich added. 

Traveling with CBD in a Plane

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) amended its marijuana policy in May 2019 to make an exception for hemp-derived CBD products. “Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018,” the new section states.

Prior to the policy update, the TSA did not distinguish between hemp and marijuana-derived products. According to David Y. Bannard, a Boston-based attorney who specializes in airport regulations and compliance, the new policy update appears to reflect new federal regulations regarding hemp and hemp-based products.

“I think what they're doing is they're harmonizing their requirements with the federal government and reflecting that this substance has been approved by the by the federal government for certain uses and therefore it's not illegal to transport it,” Bannard said.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) clarified its policy to permit passengers to fly with FDA-approved, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil. (Photo by Roman Chyller/Unsplash)

Although TSA officers do not search for marijuana at the airport security checkpoint (they are focused on security), they're still required to report any suspected violations of the law to local law enforcement 

“From the TSA standpoint, they're looking for weapons and their job really is to protect the safety and security of the aircraft and the passengers on it,” Bannard said. “I don't know what their position on [CBD] is going to be, but my guess is they are not likely to push back really hard because that's not their job.”

To steer clear of potential misunderstandings or trouble with law enforcement, however, Bannard advises airport travelers to bring CBD oil that openly states that it is hemp-derived and contains no THC.  

“I think the main thing is to be able to distinguish between CBD that's been legalized in the federal farm bill,” he explained. “With a hemp product that really isn't THC-derived, to the extent that you've got labeling or you've got a prescription or something that can enable you to demonstrate compliance with the federal law, that would be pretty helpful.” 

Traveling with CBD by Train, Bus, or Boat 

While hemp-derived CBD has been legalized on a federal level, that doesn't mean transportation companies are obliged to let you bring with you. Some companies still classify CBD oil, even when it contains no THC, as a marijuana product, and have yet to follow the federal government in laxing restrictions. 

Amtrak trains, which do not allow passengers to transport or possess marijuana on lines, even if they operate in legal states, apparently holds hemp-derived CBD in the same regard. Olivia Irvin, Public Relations Manager for Amtrak, provided the following statement about the North American passenger railroad service's policy regarding hemp-derived CBD oil: “The use or transportation of marijuana in any form for any purpose is prohibited, even in states or countries where recreational use is legal or permitted medically.” 

Many cruise ship lines also have strict policies regarding CBD oil, even when extracted from hemp plants. A Disney Cruise Line customer representative stated that CBD oil is not allowed onboard ships and could be confiscated at the port of entry. Under the cruise line's list of prohibited items, CBD products are classified as “illegal narcotics/drugs including synthetic, designer drugs, and medically prescribed marijuana.”

Major intercity bus lines that operate in the U.S., such as Greyhound, Peter Pan, Megabus, and Flixbus, may also have similar rules in place. Contact the specific transportation company and ask about its policy regarding CBD oil before getting onboard.

How to Store and Transport CBD While Traveling?

Now that you've established whether it's legally sound to bring your CBD oil along on vacation, there's still the matter or storage and transportation. Thankfully, with most CBD products, travelers don't have to worry about the skunky odor that dank nugs tend to emit. However, it's still smart to properly store your CBD oil to ensure that it stays fresh, effective, and not leaking out onto your freshly packed swimwear.  

First and foremost, the CBD oil should be stored in an airtight, childproof container that won't easily come unscrewed. Try to situate the CBD product in your baggage so that it stays in an upright position during transportation. Not only do you want to keep the contents from spilling out, but you also want to avoid exposing the CBD oil to air. Both at home and on the road, CBD products should also be stored in an environment with a stable temperature, away from light, heat, and moisture, if possible. 

Want to avoid all the hassle and stress of transporting cannabis products? Sign up for a free account on Weedmaps to find the best dispensaries, storefronts, doctors, and deals wherever you're traveling. For guidance on what to look for, Weedmaps Learn has you covered.

Disclaimer: Today, cannabis still remains classified as a Schedule I drug at the federal level and possessing it carries inherent risks. This is an educational guide and does not provide legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel from a licensed attorney.

Feature image by Anete Lūsiņa/Unsplash